Monday, April 11, 2011 (Angela) Jean, with special guest blogger, Sara.

Guess what? It's your lucky day! Not only do you get double post day from Barbara Jean, but we have a very special guest writing on today's topic.....sleep!

Sara is the mother of 4 children under the age of 6, who also happens to have a PhD in Neuroscience.  She is creative and kind, has fabulous hair and is the only person I know who has the dubious distinction of having crashed her mother's car during her Driver's Exam. She also happens to be my little sister.

“Every animal habitually persists in each act which gives pleasure- and desists from
each act which gives pain…” Herbert Spencer, 1872

I used to think that eating was enjoyable, and that this enjoyment served to ensure that we continue to eat.  When I studied Motivation and Emotion, I became aware that yes, the pleasure we derive from eating is a reward, but not for consuming food.  It is the reward for everything leading up to the point where the food is eaten.  In other words, we are motivated to go out and get the food, to cook or otherwise prepare it, to lay it out or present it and lift it to our mouths.  Once we are eating it, we’re experiencing the reward for our efforts.  These reward-securing efforts are labeled “appetitive” or approach behaviours, in motivation lingo.  The experience of a rewarding state will usually result in an increase in an appetitive response, such as food-seeking behaviour.

I recently applied this concept to explain why I have been so obsessed with bedding over the last year.  A friend of mine sent me a photo of a lovely duvet sold by Pottery Barn.  I loved it and thought it would be perfect in our bedroom.  I didn’t make the trip to Pottery Barn then, but over the course of the year I spent a lot of time on Pottery Barn’s website, looking over and over again at their duvet covers, sheet sets and various quilts.  I admired the way the quilts are draped over the beds (in what I’m sure is a painstaking effort to look careless), and how the pillows are arranged just so.  I would arrange my own bedding, quilts and duvet so they had the same fluffed, welcoming look.  I made sure to find the right sizes of pillows for each of my shams, and found a quilt set that coordinated with the bedding I already had.  I was doing everything possible to prepare for sleep.

I also kept going back to the duvet cover on the Pottery Barn site.  One day I noticed that it was on sale – clearance.  Suddenly, I was afraid that my chance was slipping away, and my coveted duvet would be out of reach.  I called the Canadian stores, but they were sold out.  I became desperate.  Finally, I asked our cousin, who lives in Georgia, if we could have a package shipped to her (PB only ships to the U.S.)   She agreed to receive the package, and I was able to order the set after all.  I was giddy with relief.

Why this obsession?  I realized, it was because I am hungry.  Hungry for a wonderful, long, uninterrupted sleep where I’m surrounded by lovely bedding and pillows and I don’t wake up to a baby crying, a toddler calling out or a three-year-old creeping down the hall to the bathroom.  A sleep in which I can crawl into bed and get all comfy cosy and know that I won’t have to get back out 10 minutes later because she’s decided she DOES need to burp.  I’m so hungry that my thoughts continually turn to what, in the past, would get me some sleep.  I procure bedding, I make up the bed and I climb into it. 

So now that I’ve made my bed – I think I’d better go lie in it…

~ Sara is sleep-deprived but otherwise content in London Ontario.  Her writing is much more coherent when she has had more sleep…

Are you feeling sleepy yet?
How about now?
What if I sing to you?
Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
 Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones' watch am keeping,
All through the night
Angels watching, e'er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night

Sweet Dreams.

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